With bed bugs on the rise, students take caution

Bed bugs have recently begun to surface all across the United States and are now being found in hotels, apartment complexes, hospitals, and even college dorms.

A few years ago bed bugs were virtually non-existent and were only a part of a bedtime myth. Now, they are affecting colleges and universities nationwide. According to experts, it is possible that in as little as one to two years it will be difficult to find a college or university residence hall that is not being affected to some degree by the pests.

It is uncertain why these bugs have made such a drastic and sudden appearance; some explanations include changes in pest control practices like the types of pesticides being available to companies, increased international travel, and the lack of focus and emphasis that has been placed on the bugs in the past.

These insects do not crawl or fly in from outside. They are transferred from one infested environment to another. If you have picked up an item that was already infested, then it is unlikely that you will encounter a problem with these crafty hitchhikers. Western is considered a “suitcase” college, meaning that a lot of students leave on the weekends and return before class on Monday. This movement increases the risk of bed bugs being transferred from an infested location to the campus.

Wake Forest had an outbreak of bed bugs earlier this semester and had to shut down the infected residence hall to treat the infestation with a thermal, environmentally friendly treatment. When blasted with 120 degree temperatures over a time span of at least five hours, bed bugs begin to die.

Senior Adam Parker works for residential living and is concerned about the possibility of bed bugs on campus. He is constantly moving between residence halls to improve the dorms and said, “I know how easy it is for bed bugs to attach themselves to our work materials and then relocate in the dorms. I always check myself and materials for live bugs or the stains they leave behind to prevent them from using me as a free ride in.”

Stephen Eller, a member of WCU’s band, does not live on campus but that has not stopped him and his friends from worrying about the possibility of bed bugs in their home. He said his friends got new anti-allergen blankets for their rooms because of the rise of bed bugs. Eller said, “I hope that the increase in bed bugs doesn’t get bad here at Western. Hopefully, the faculty is taken precautions to prevent it.”

Danielle Greene works for Residential Living and lives on campus in her sorority’s Phi Mu house in the village. She is taken an objective look at the bed bug situation from both ends. Greene said, “I am not keen on it [increased risk of bed bugs].”

As an employee of residential living, Greene understands the importance of being aware of the situation and taking the necessary preventative methods to avoid the situation. She has not heard the topic discussed in Residential Living, but is aware of the possibility of a problem arising.

As a student in campus housing, Greene said, “My sisters are careful of what they bring into the house and we all work together to keep things clean to make sure that the bed bugs don’t bite!”

The best way to avoid bringing bed bugs into your living area is to check all items you bring into your room from another location. Pay careful attention to the small areas and creases, such as seams and zippers.

Bed bugs are most noticeable at night time. While you are sleeping you become an easy target and it is easier for them to feed off of your blood. If you wake up with unexplained bug bites on your body, this may be a sign that you are experiencing a bed bug problem. Also watch for live bugs. To be safe, notify residential living right away to prevent an infestation from getting out of control.